Relationship Between Parenting Styles and Sexual Risk Behavior in Adolescents

By: Dinorah Garza-Torteya, clinical psychologist, 2015 MI intern

Mexico, like the United States is facing social problems associated with adolescent sexual behavior outside of marriage and the breakdown of the family unit. The rate of unplanned pregnancies in Mexico is 30 out of 1,000. The incidence of STIs, including HIV has continued to climb. The divorce rate in Mexico increased by 74.3% from the year 2000 to 2011 and 44.8% of Mexican women report violence from their partner.

Recently, a study involving 400 Mexican teenagers was conducted, with the objective of analyzing the relationship between different parenting styles and sexual risk behaviors of adolescents. The participants were 15 to 19-year-old high school students, 45.2% male and 54.8% female.

The method was quantitative, cross-sectional, and correlational. The questionnaires used were: 1. Sexual Behavior, Ingledew & Ferguson, 2007. 2. Parenting Style Scale and Perceived Parental Inconsistency, de la Iglesia, Ongarato & Fernandez-Liporace, 2011.

There were eight different parenting styles used in the study:

  1. Affection
  2. Dialogue
  3. Indifference
  4. Verbal coercion
  5. Physical coercion
  6. Prohibition
  7. Response
  8. Demand

The definition of sexual risk behavior is any activity that puts people at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unplanned pregnancy and being in a sexual relationship before being mature enough to know what makes a healthy relationship. Teens and young adults are at higher risk than adults.

Six risk behaviors were used in the study:

  1. Early sexual debut
  2. Multiple sexual partners
  3. Not using contraception
  4. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  5. Taking a medical pregnancy test
  6. Taking an STI test

 

The preliminary results of the study are the following:

The most common sexual risk behavior identified in this study was no use or little use of contraception. The second most common was the early sexual debut. See Table 1 (many participants have more than one)

 

Table 1

Sexual Risk Behavior Percentage
Early sexual debut 74.6%
Multiple sexual partners 50.7%
Not using contraception 91.5%
Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol 16.9%
Take a pregnancy test 35.2%
Take an STI test 8.5%

 

The correlation between parental style’ activity and sexual risk behavior was separated among father and mother, or the person who fill that specific role

 

  1. The father

 

Table 2

Parenting Style Early sexual debut Multiple sexual partners Not using contraception Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Affection Rho=-.125 p=.01 Rho=-0.114 p=0.025
Physical coercion Rho= 0.173 p=.001 Rho=0.175 p=0.001 Rho=0.151 p=.003 Rho=-.163 p=.001
Prohibition Rho=0.122 p=0.017 Rho=-.136 p=.008
Response Rho=0.123 p=0.16 Rho=0.105 p=0.40

 

 

  1. The mother

 

Table 3

Parenting Style Early sexual debut Multiple sexual partners Not using contraception Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Affection Rho=-.116 p=.023 Rho=-.105 p=.039
Dialogue Rho=-.102 p=.047 Rho=-.110 p=.032
Physical coercion Rho=.168 p=.001 Rho=.174 p=.001 Rho= .155 p=.002 Rho=.151 p=.003
Verbal coercion Rho=-.111 p=.030
Prohibition Rho=-.110 p=.031 Rho=-.115 p=.025 Rho=-.121 p=.018
Response Rho=-.117 p=.022 Rho=-.102 p=.045

 

Conclusion

As it shows in Table 2, affection shown by the father is associated with a later sexual debut and a lower number of sexual partners. However, when the father uses physical punishment or certain prohibitions, the children have an earlier sexual debut, multiple partners, little or no use of contraception and an increase in having sex under influence of drugs or alcohol. When the fathers give a positive response to sexual behavior of their children, most commonly with boys, the children had early sexual debut and multiple sexual partners.

Table 3 shows a similar correlation between the affection of the mother and a later sexual debut, as well as a lower number of sexual partners in the children. When the mother’s dialogue with their children is frequent and the mother’s response to their children is higher, the age of sexual debut is greater and the number of sexual partners is lower. Even when the mother implements prohibition and verbal coercion, the consequences are still good, with higher age of sexual debut, frequent use of contraception and less sexual partners. However, when the mother uses physical punishment, their children have an earlier sexual debut, multiple partners, little or no use of contraception and an increase in having sex under influence of drugs or alcohol.

We can conclude that is important to show affection, response and dialogue with adolescents and also to set limits and rules (Prohibition and Coercion), while avoiding physical punishment. Parenting styles that embrace these qualities provide an environment that invites sexual health and most importantly, a better quality of family life. We can also conclude that environmental factors are related to sexual risk behavior in adolescents, with the most significant being family relationships.

 

References:

1) Instituto de Mercadotecnia y Opinión, Encuesta Nacional en México. (2012). Familia y

cambios en los roles de género. Retrieved: http://tad.org.mx/wpcontent/uploads/2013/11/FAMILIA-Y-CAMBIOS-EN-ROLES-DE-G%C3%89NERO.-IMO-1-PARTE1.pdf

2) INEGI, Instituto nacional de estadística geografía e informática. (2010). Reporte del

INEGI conmemorando el día internacional de la juventud. Retrieved: http://www.inegi.org.mx/inegi/contenidos/espanol/prensa/contenidos/estadisticas/2012/juventud12.asp?s=inegi&c=2844&%23038;ep=99

3) INEGI, Instituto nacional de estadística geografía e informática. (2011). Encuesta Nacional sobre Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares, ENDIREH.

Retrieved: http://www.inegi.org.mx/est/contenidos/Proyectos/Encuestas/Hogares/especiales/endireh/endireh2011/default.aspx

4)Valle-Solis, M.O., Benavides-Torres, R.A., Alvarez-Aguirre, A., & Pena-Esquivel,J.N. (2011). Conducta Sexual de Riesgo para VIH/SIDA en jovenes universitarios. Rev. Enfermeria Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social 19 (3), 133-136.

5) de la Iglesia, G., Stover, B.J., Freiberg-Hoffman, A., & Fernandez Lipocare, M. (2014). Perceived Parenting Styles and Parental Inconsistency Scale: Construct Validity in Young Adults. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. 7 (4), 61-69.

6) Ingledew, D.K., & Ferguson, E. (2007). Personality and riskier sexual behaviour: Motivational mediators. Psychology and Health 22 (3), 291-315.

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